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National Parks
Arugam bay, Sri Lanka. Phone: +94 (0) 7769 57936 info@thedanishvilla.com 

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Yala National Park
Yala National Park is 309 km south of Colombo on the southeast of the island. It is among the oldest and best known national park in Sri Lanka and is well known for its vast size and for its biggest, extensive area of 1,259 sq km, and for its best wildlife preservation in the country. With it considerable size, the terrain of the national park is varied from flat plains to rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. There are also abundance of water supply for animals and birds ranging from waterholes, streams, small lakes to lagoons. The national park is divided into Yala West (also called Ruhuna) and Yala East.

Yala National Park is now well recognized for the best park in the world to observe and photograph leopards. There are about 35 leopards in the park which probably is the highest density than anywhere in the world. It is possible to take one day jeep-safari trip through the park although it takes you three days to see the entire park. The park is usually closed relatively late (almost 7.00 pm) therefore the chance to come across one of the leopards is quite high.

As well as leopards there are a large number of elephants living inside the park and these can be seen bathing in anyone of the numerous lakes within the park. Other animal living in the park include sloth bear, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, toque monkey, stripe-necked mongoose, ruddy mongoose, wild pig, jackal, water monitor, marsh crocodile and estuarine crocodile.

Also, 130 species of birds have been recorded here, they includes Sri Lanka Jungle Fowl, Brown-capped Babbler, Stone Curlew, Greater Thick-knee, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork, Sirkeer Malkoha, Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Bee-eater, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Blue-faced Malkoha, Green Bee-eater Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Brahminya Myna and Rose-colored Starling.

A large variety of water birds also can be seen in the Kumana Mangrove Swamp inside the Yala East, which is 180 sq km in extent. Yala East National Park can be entered at Okanda, 25 km down the coast track south of Arugam Bay via the small town of Panama. Going to Yala East is not always possible as it is officially closed however a three-hour round trip can be arranged from Arugam Bay.

Gal Oya National Park
Situated in Inginiyagala district west of Ampara, the Gal Oya National Park is 314 km from Colombo with its area of 260 sq km. It is surrounded by the largest tank in Sri Lanka, the Senanayake Samudra. The best time to see wildlife here is between March and July when you can possibly see almost 150 elephants at one time. This park is most renowned for its extraordinary elephant population. The usual way to enjoy the park's scenery is to take a boat trip around the lake, watching animals and birds on the shore before drifting close to the herds of elephants.
Bundala National Park

Bundala National Park is the latest addition to national parks and is situated 260 km away from Colombo with 62 sq km in extent. Comprising of scrub jungle and bordering the sea, the park stretches along the coast east of Hambantota. The beach is an important nesting site for turtles. Between October and January, four of Sri Lanka's five species of marine turtles come to lay their eggs. Wildlife living in the park includes elephants, spotted deer, grey langur, jackal, water monitor, crocodiles, the olive ridley and leatherback turtles, the hawksbill and green turtles.

Bird Sanctuary

Sri Lanka has recorded more than 468 species of birds. There are a total of 339 varieties of birds found in Sri Lanka and a further 129 species of migrant birds. A total of 27 species of the birds found are native birds. The seasonal migrant birds those shuttle between the North and South Pole often use the island as the point of relaxation due to its strategic location. A bird watcher could expect to observe as much as 230 species at any given time.

Kumana Bird Sanctuary
Kumana, situated to the northeast of the Yala National Park, is a habitat for local birds and migratory aquatic birds including flamingoes, ibis, herons, pheasants particularly impressive in the man grove swamps. Herds of elephants can also be spotted although leopards and bears are more elusive. 

Bird lovers have a look at Simon Plat & Maaike Poppinga Trip Report Sri Lanka.